Books Beyond Words has launched two new titles to support people with learning disabilities in crucial areas of healthy living. Launched in Covent Garden on 1 November, Rose Gets in Shape and Going to the Dentist are designed to support people to manage their weight and promote good oral care.
Speaking at the launch, Prof Parveen Kumar, Chair of the BMA Board of Science, said “These books will have an important impact on public health.”
Baroness Sheila Hollins, Founder of Books Beyond Words, said: “There are challenges in anyone’s lives to live healthily, and these challenges increase when there are obstacles in communication and understanding. These new books help to break down the barriers and support the health education of people with learning disabilities, so that they can make choices about their lifestyle, and when to access health care. This is about health literacy, and empowering everyone to play an active part in managing their own health.”
Beyond Words is respected as a pioneer in co-creating its work with people with learning disabilities. Each book undergoes an intense, well-researched, expert-based co-production process with around 100 people with learning disabilities or communication difficulties reading each book before the story and artwork are finalised.
Rose Gets in Shape tells the story of a young woman whose doctor tells her that her weight is causing health problems. She decides to get in shape and the book follows Rose through her weight loss journey, the new activities she takes up, and the good friends and support she finds along the way.
Cas Anstee helped to create the book. She said: “This book has helped me to lose weight. Working on the book helped me think about my weight and last week I lost two pounds. I hope the book helps other people too.”
Prof Kumar also said: “When it comes to public health, vulnerable groups including those that have a learning disability or communication difficulties, are often overlooked. Key health messages are not tailored towards their needs and the sad result of this is further vulnerability to poor health outcomes. It therefore gives me great pleasure that the BMA Foundation for Medical Research has supported the development of Rose Gets in Shape, made specifically with those with learning disabilities or communication difficulties in mind. The impacts of this will be wide ranging, not only on physical health outcomes for these individuals, but also on their quality of life.”
Going to the Dentist tells the story of Matthew whose liking for sugary foods creates a toothache. After going to the dentist and receiving treatment, he goes back to learn how to keep his teeth and gums healthy. The story gives examples of a dental x-ray, an injection, drilling and filling, and good oral hygiene routines.
Amber Qureshi, is a specialist in special care dentistry and co-author of Going to the Dentist. She explained: “The oral health of people with learning disabilities, and indeed their level of oral hygiene, has been reported as being worse than that of the general population. Research shows that dental fear is one of the greatest barriers preventing people with learning disabilities from accessing dental care. We hope this book will assist dentists as a useful and inspiring guide, and will encourage and inform people with learning disabilities, as well as their carers, to feel more confident about seeking dental care and improving their oral hygiene.”
Lloyd Page is co-author of the book. He said: “Going to the dentist is a bit scary at first. Lots of people with a learning disability find it hard. My dentist is wonderful because she talks to me and communicates well. I want all dentists to be friendly and kind. The book can help people, by looking at the pictures. It explains about treatment and x-rays. At the end of the book Matthew feels happy. I want lots of people to use the book. I hope the book will change people’s lives for the better.”
We are grateful for financial support towards the cost of creating these books, including from St Andrew’s Healthcare, The British Medical Association and the Tangley Trust.